National News

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Pennsylvania officials unanimously approve bill to forgive student loans of volunteer firefighters, first responders

Pennsylvania officials have unanimously passed a new measure that seeks to ease the burden of student loan debt for municipal volunteers of fire companies, rescue companies, and non-profit emergency medical services. An amended version of the bill will head to Pennsylvania's House of Representatives after it was passed Wednesday. House Bill 1786, would establish the First Responder Loan Forgiveness Program, to incentivize people to consider alternative careers in order to address a decline in volunteers in those fields. "I believe offering college loan forgiveness to first responders is an innovative and effective way to do so," State Representative Chris Sainato wrote in a memorandum in August.
WTXF-TV FOX 29 Philadelphia

U.S. Fire Administration Report: Vast majority of fire-related firefighter injuries linked to structure blazes

Of the estimated 26,000 fire-related firefighter injuries that occurred annually from 2015 to 2017, 87% were related to structure fires, according to data published in the July edition of the U.S. Fire Administration’s “Topical Fire Report Series.” Additionally, according to the data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, firefighters were more than 11 times more likely to be injured in a structure fire than in a nonstructure fire during the three-year period – 11.2 injuries per 1,000 fires compared to 1.0 injury per 1,000 fires, respectively. An estimated 63,000 on-the-job firefighter injuries occurred annually during the period studied. Other firefighter fire-related injury data: Overexertion or strain was the leading cause of injury, at 29%, followed by hazard exposure (17%); Strains or sprains accounted for 24.8% of injuries; 46% of injured firefighters experienced lost work time; Injuries occurred most often in July (10.6%) and were the least frequent in October and November (6.8% each).
Safety+Health Magazine

Fire guts Texas condo project, damages neighboring apartments

VIDEO: A massive fire early Thursday destroyed a South Austin condo under construction and two neighboring apartment buildings, fire officials said. Austin-Travis County EMS medics took one woman to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with minor injuries as she tried to escape the fire. Crews first responded around 3:40 a.m. to the 4000 block of Banister Lane, which is just north of Texas 71/Ben White Boulevard. That portion of the street was expected to be closed all day while fire personnel worked the scene, fire officials said. The fire burned nearby power lines, which led to power outages in the area. Austin Energy reported that as many as 1,000 customers were without electricity but power restoration is ongoing. Austin school district officials said nearby Galindo Elementary School would not be affected by the outages and classes would continue as scheduled.
Austin American-Statesman - Metered Site

Ohio firefighter concerned about ‘trade secret’ fracking chemicals

A local firefighter who helps train others in handling hazardous materials said there is a growing concern over the impact oil and gas drilling could leave in Ohio. Youngstown Battalion Chief Sil Caggiano said there are numerous drilling sites across the state, including a couple here in the Valley, where high levels of radium have been detected in the waste coming from the wells. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources found these wells in our area had radium levels much higher than what is acceptable for drinking water or water for industrial use. Caggiano said he’s concerned firefighters and other first responders sent to spills or fires involving drilling materials could run into trouble trying to determine what hazards they’re dealing with and how to handle them.
WYTV ABC 33 Youngstown

Firefighters in northeastern New York city understaffed, launch campaign

VIDEO: There are signs up throughout Plattsburgh calling for “A Stand on Safety.” They’re being put up by the local firefighters union. With the ability to respond within minutes, the Plattsburgh City firefighters are constantly poised and ready to respond. While they can arrive quickly, they might not come fully prepared. “We don’t have the firefighters responding that we should,” said Jamie Schwartz, vice president of the Plattsburgh Professional Firefighters Local 2421, and Plattsburgh City firefighter. “People think we have a six-man minimum and that’s not true. That’s six firefighters in the entire city to come rescue you.” According to the NFPA 1710, the industry standard for career fire departments, the Plattsburgh City Fire Department has been understaffed for years. That’s why the local firefighters union has launched a campaign.
WPTZ-TV NBC 5 Plattsburgh

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jon Stewart, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand help spread word on 9/11 healthcare at New York seminar

Following the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund being permanently extended by the federal government this summer, hundreds of Lower Manhattan community members attended a Sept. 16 informational seminar to learn about access to 9/11-related healthcare. Speakers at the event included officials and advocates, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and comedian Jon Stewart. The event was held at Borough of Manhattan Community College, at 199 Chambers St., just blocks away from the World Trade Center. The law firm Barasch & McGarry, which represents more than 15,000 people in the 9/11 community, handed out informational packets on how individuals — including residents, students and anyone who was exposed to W.T.C. toxins — can access full healthcare benefits for illnesses. John Feal, a first responder and advocate, emceed the seminar.
The Villager

Washington woman wins fight to have firefighter husband’s death ruled job-related

"Excellent dad, the best. They don't come any better than him," says Kalina Shouse when asked about her husband Erik. The couple have two beautiful, intelligent, active little girls but Kalina Shouse no longer has the man who helped make them; Erik Shouse died last year at just 40, suddenly and unexpectedly. An autopsy revealed the otherwise healthy firefighter had heart disease. The state of Washington recognizes a number of conditions -- cancers mostly -- as presumptive, meaning a direct result of firefighting. Heart attack is one of them, but only if it occurs within 24 hours of strenuous activity related to the job or within 72 hours of smoke exposure. Neither applied to Erik Shouse but in a pivotal decision by Labor and Industries, his heart disease -- and consequently his death -- was ruled presumptive or, in other words, caused by his job. And that designation entitles Kalina and her children to survivor's benefits.
KIRO-TV CBS 7 Seattle

Fire Pension Board takes action to seize millions it says are owed by Illinois city

Since East St. Louis was freed of oversight from the Illinois Financial Authority in 2013, the city has fallen nearly $2.3 million short in mandated payments to the fund that supports firefighters and their families in retirement, according to an audit. The East St. Louis Fire Pension Board on Monday voted unanimously to recover those contributions from the city through an “intercept procedure,” in which it would petition Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office to seize state payments to the city and deposit them directly to the pension funds. As a result, East St. Louis could see agencies like the police and fire departments without money for daily operation. According to the 2018 audit by Alton accountant C. J. Schlosser, the city owed $3,358,997 to the fire pension fund, but paid just $2,029,232. The funding shortfall in 2017 was nearly $900,000, the audit states.
Belleville News-Democrat

Oregon fire district launches effort to bring in information on rural access

Responding to a medical call in a rural area outside of town, emergency responders pause for a moment to figure out how they can access a property. By the way, it’s the middle of a moonless night. “We used to do that with our old manual map books and open it up,” Capt. Rich Saalsaa, Philomath Fire & Rescue’s fire and life safety officer remembered. “But at 4 o’clock in the morning and if it’s pitch dark and you’re trying to read this map, it just doesn’t go well.” These days, modern-day technology has closed the book on those old methods and emergency responders can find their way through the help of a computerized database. Philomath Fire & Rescue’s recent equipment upgrades allows the district to input helpful information that comes in handy on a call.
Corvallis Gazette-Times

Dallas Firefighters Rescuing First Responders From Bad Coffee

During a late night of emergency calls last year, Dallas firefighter and paramedic Paul Clarke decided he was sick of drinking bad coffee to keep him alert during shifts. He wanted to create a better brew for himself and his fellow first responders. But before he could, Clarke—an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve—was deployed to Iraq for nine months. But he didn’t abandon the idea. In his free time he developed a concept for a coffee operation that would give back to the men and women on the frontlines back home. “We started pricing out the roasting equipment and working on the brand, the logo, and the art on the packages,” Clarke says. “When I got back, I pulled the trigger on everything.” With the help of two Air Force captains, a fellow Marine captain, his best friend, and his dad, Clarke launched Fire Grounds Coffee Company at the beginning of this year.
D Magazine

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